Verifone Inc. has introduced a software system for small and midsize retailers to manage networks of point of sale terminals.

The product, VeriTalk Lite, came on the market Monday and is being offered to banks and card processors in the merchant-acquiring business. Banks and processors can sell or lease the system to retailers that have up to 5,000 point of sale terminals to help them transmit and receive payment card information in a faster and more automated way.

Doan Nguyen, product manager at Verifone, described Veri-Talk Lite as an "integrated download management system specifically designed to lower the cost of ownership (of terminal software for merchants) and increase the productivity of our customers."

Verifone of Santa Clara, Calif., the largest maker of point of sale systems, is a division of Hewlett-Packard Co. Though it often enhances products, it less often introduces products with entirely new architecture, such as VeriTalk Lite.

Verifone's earlier product for this market, ZonTalk, is based on DOS (an early computing platform whose initials stand for disk operating system), has a text-based user interface, and can only do one data transmission at a time.

VeriTalk Lite works on Windows NT (a successor to DOS), has a graphical user interface, and can handle up to 16 simultaneous downloads, or data transmissions. Unlike ZonTalk, Veri-Talk can do downloads automatically.

To illustrate the difference, Ms. Nguyen used the example of a retailer that has 2,000 point of sale terminals. If a sample data transmission takes five minutes per terminal, she said, ZonTalk would take 166 hours to complete the download and would require "someone sitting there to initiate each one." VeriTalk Lite would take 10.4 hours for the same task, without constant babysitting.

The type of information being transmitted includes "terminal parameters, telephone numbers, address and contact information-anything that has to do with allowing the merchant to capture and transfer customer information so they can get a transaction through," Ms. Nguyen said.

An analogous product for retailers with more than 5,000 point of sale terminals, VeriTalk Enterprise, was brought to market two years ago, Ms. Nguyen said.

Banks and processors "are saying that their customers-the merchants-are demanding a lot more services," Ms. Nguyen said. With loyalty and gift card programs coming into vogue, "there's going to be an increasing number of downloads on the terminals."

VeriTalk Enterprise and Veri-Talk Lite can also handle any modification needed for Y2K and support the euro, Ms. Nguyen said.

Verifone has announced two U.S. customers for VeriTalk Lite, both nonbank processors. Medicheck Services Inc. is a Los Angeles company that facilitates payments for health-care providers, and First American Payment Systems of Fort Worth is a merchant processor.

Ms. Nguyen said Royal Bank of Trinidad, in Trinidad and Tobago, has bought the product, as have companies in Europe, Asia, and Australia.

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